On Denny Way between 16th Avenue and 17th Avenue. The Stranger


On a Thursday afternoon around 2 p.m., you were walking east on Denny Way, between 16th and 17th Avenues, on Capitol Hill. You appeared to be a woman in your 20s, in a peacoat, gazing down into your phone. Something in your peripheral vision caught your eye. A white, radiant lump. It was on the grass next to the sidewalk, next to an electrical pole. We saw you approach the white lump, gingerly, as if unsure what it was, and then touch it with your toe, and then look up at the electrical pole and the wires overhead, and then look down at the white lump again, wandering around it, wondering what to do. And then you decided not to do anything and kept walking. When we got close enough to see what it was, we could see the white lump was a seagull, freshly dead, resting, infinitely peaceful in the wet grass. We didn't know what to do either, so we just kept walking.


You were the small toddler with your family, returning to the parking lot on Sunday evening after a presumably long day of nonstop Christmas at the Bellevue shopping center. Your mom, wielding a stroller and shopping bags, was trying to get you to go up a flight of steps instead of down it, but you refused. "No, I won't go!" you yelled defiantly, so defiantly. We walked around you while you and your mom duked it out. She tried to reason with you, tried to ask VERY NICELY that you PLEASE follow her to the car. As we made it to our car, your mom's frustration boiled over into a terrifying scream that echoed throughout the garage.


In the Sunday evening rain at the corner of Pine and Broadway, your path was blocked by protesters. You could only see the part of their banner that read "White Supremacy!" You were understandably pissed off, not only at being inconvenienced, but at being inconvenienced by "a bunch of fucking Nazis," you said. "How is this the world?" you then asked no one in particular, or everyone, though no one answered. (Don't worry, we heard you.) Then the small cluster of onlookers dispersed slightly and you saw the word "Smash" on the left side of the banner, written on top of a burst of color that made it almost illegible. "Oh," you mused aloud. "'Smash white supremacy!' That's okay then."


On a cold, sunny Saturday downtown, we saw you chasing a thief down a stretch of Pike Street near Fourth Avenue, shouting "Drop it!" ("It" looked like a sleeping bag, but it was hard to tell for sure.) Both of you were young men, probably around the same age, but living very different lives. You were selling expensive outdoor gear; he was stealing it. You made it about half a block before giving up and turning back, shaking your head as you went back inside the Carhartt store.


During a headliner's set on a Tuesday night, you said, "The bass is making my boobs bounce." We felt a similar phenomenon in our testicles.


You were reading Tim Tebow's autobiography—Chapter 13: "Communication Problems"—on a flight from Spokane to Seattle on a Saturday night. The plane touched down. You turned on your phone and immediately opened Tinder, chatted with a match, and swiped right on a few more. Maybe save the Tebow talk for the second date?


We see you, nearly every morning, at the corner of 14th Avenue and Spring Street, in front of that old church. You—middle-aged white guy—stand there with your arms outstretched, reaching up toward the sun, your eyes closed, as if in prayer, or meditation, or desperation. Sometimes you wander down a few blocks to Cherry Street, but your stance is the same. You've even been captured on Google Earth. On a recent frigid Monday morning, when the temperature was in the upper 20s, you stood in a sliver of light in front of the church, with your arms outstretched toward the sun, either praying or trying to absorb all the energy in the sky.


You were a well-dressed woman in a long winter coat striding along downtown streets on a Sunday afternoon. Suddenly—and loudly—you declared to a friend, "I smell MARIJUANA!"


You are a redhead we met while sampling pita chips and hummus at the West Seattle Trader Joe's on a Sunday afternoon. You were being carried in the arms of one of your parents, which was a good thing, because you were barefoot and it was very cold out. "I'm 2," you told us. Then you released a deep, heavy sigh and added, "I'm trying hard to be a big girl." Honey, we know the feeling. recommended